Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From The Heart

These past few weeks, eyes in general have been poised on the presidential candidate elections of the United States. This once, said process has proven to be incredibly intense, specially on the Democratic side (the side the whole world would prefer as victorious, given the horrid state of affairs thanks to Republican President George W. Bush). Up until now, both primary candidates for the Democratic Party (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) have been going at it neck-to-neck, one brushing by very closely to the other. Nothing definitive has been decided yet, not until the majority of delegates has voted in (last primaries will be held in June).

I'm not usually one to have my nose stuck in politics, but I suffer the consequences of a ridiculous, overlong war along with the rest of the world. And being an American citizen, I also suffer the consequences of a government led by an ass-head along with the rest of the American nation (like it or not, because I couldn't choose who to be born to). So, when it comes to an election which could have a strong impact on where we go from now on as a nation and as a people, I can't help but have some strong reactions, even if based on pure emotion rather than on an analytical process.

I don't know when it occurred to me first, but a while after the war was kick-started out of the rubble of the World Trade Center, I became convinced that what could start fixing this world (yeah, the world in general) is another revolution.

Yes, I know it can be seen as a moronically romantic notion, specially in this age of skepticism and irony. Nowadays, the definition of cool is "sarcastic" and not much more. The more heartless you are, the cooler you are, no matter where your lack of faith is coming from. I've participated on this practice of sizing people up by their quality of nonchalant. Being naive has become the worst sin of all, akin to having sucked off an entire police squad.

"Not caring" is the sport of the 21st century. Suddenly all important issues can be found in a copy of the Entertainment Weekly.

So, I am aware of my un-coolness when I say that, regardless of the fact that I know that 99.99% of politicians are corrupted by power or will soon be, seeing these commercials reinforce the notions I've had that what we need is to turn the world upside down.

Maybe what we need is a black president. Or who knows, maybe I'm wrong, maybe a woman would be the right choice. I'm just glad the opposition has candidates that, either way, do not conform to the established norm.

I just hope that the one that wins will show that he or she has the cojones to truly change things around...

... and not let American History keep on this nonsensical course of violence by inertia.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Beautiful Fat Girl - A Fallacy

Even the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty chickens out before putting an obese woman at front and center

"Real women have curves", or so some say. Specially in this Caribbean piece of land, where we are told from a very early age that our heritage includes equal parts of Taínos (the indigenous people who occupied this island before the Spanish invasion), Spanish and African. Of course, that is pretty much a lie, since most taínos were finished off before the second or third generation after the invasion came to life, but I digress.

We are a mixed breed: we have African blood, as well as heritage from the Middle East and from Europe. Obviously, the mix of breeds results in the passage of dominant genes...

A huge, round ass is apparently the most widespread, lasting gift to us as a race.

Whether you're out at the supermarket, the mall, a disco, a church ... everywhere you will observe that most females are equipped with a considerable butt. The size of the rest of the body will depend mostly on age, and then metabolic heritage. But most women I've seen nearing their thirties have already lost their washboard abs and thighs of steel. A slim and lithe build seems to be reserved for girls 23 and under.

You would think then that given the increasing difficulty with which we face keeping a given weight and shape, we would be more empathic towards each other. Maybe I'm being too naive to expect women to be more enlightened as time passes, to start seeing beauty in things other than a perfectly formed butt and ribs that hint themselves out of a sinewy torso.

Some of us will never have the experience of fitting in with what the populace considers beautiful: an "ugly" face is rarely so as a general rule (someone will eventually find the most hideous of mugs strangely endearing), but a fat girl will never be considered pleasant to look at. If a girl is born fat and grows up fat, she will most likely live through the experience of being put through numberless diets by her own family, never being quite accepted for who she is, always being an "opportunity for improvement".

Eventually, those born fat will either start ignoring these forms of aggression (the "well-intended" advice to diet, the slanted looks, the whispers, the loud scorn by classmates - children can and WILL be cruel!) ... or in the worst of cases they will let the criticism eat away at their self worth. I have yet to meet a fat person who is completely happy with who she or he is. "There is always room for improvement".

There are other cases in which a girl is born slim, or grows up to be slim, and eventually age will do its job and fill her form out to a plump and round issue of itself. I don't mean to be an absolute judge of which pain is worse, but I can tell you it's incredibly mortifying to
a) not be recognized by old friends because you went way beyond recognizable with 50 additional pounds weighing on your belly and hips
b) being recognized by old friends, and said friends presuming off-the-bat that you are pregnant
c) look at pictures of barely 2 years ago and realizing you're not only growing old, you're growing fat.

In short: changing from "that hot mama" to "that fat mama" in 2 or 3 years' time is frustrating, and it gives a more somber perspective to aging.

However, one good thing I've noticed about my friends (most of which are fat) is that they usually will find loveliness in a person due mostly to what the person is like, rather than what the person looks like. We hate ourselves, we hate our bodies, but we can usually see beauty when it stands in front of us, even if it's living under 200 pounds of fat.

You type in "sexy girl" in, and what do you get? A girl that is barely thicker than the snake she is holding.

Not so with thinner girls. I've surmised that somewhere along the line, something goes on in a thin girl's brain that clicks, and then suddenly they're on a class their own, they belong to a clique, and whatever stands outside this circle is not worth even looking at.

I've heard the most hurtful, insulting comments about fat people coming from a thin person's lips. I guess it's the same "fear of the different" that plays into action in racism and xenophobia.

And incredibly enough, we the "fatties" will give credit to what they say. We will let these comments corrode at our own confidence. I don't know why, I haven't yet figured it out, much less found out a solution to protect ourselves from it. But apparently, the bigger we are, the more vulnerable we become to comments coming from razor-thin assholes.

Saddest part is, these razor-thin assholes, given the way the corporate mechanism works, are the ones in charge, the ones making the decisions on marketing, advertising, purchasing, etc. These are the ones that will push for the airbrushed look on magazine covers, these are the ones that will create demand for thinner models and actresses, these are the ones creating a homogenized world of creatures more resembling the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, rather than a homo sapiens.

The tragedy of all of this? That the new generations are eating it up. Girls will want to emulate the next Kate Moss, and will begin checking themselves out in the mirror, making sure that the hip bone sticks out enough to be sexy. Boys will be fed pictures of airbrushed females, creating expectations that no regular girl will be able to fulfill (and let's not even talk about how males have been put under scrutiny lately, as well. That is a whole other chapter!). All around, a more strict guideline for beauty is being set up. And wherever we look and read, it's being perpetrated by males and females alike.

Long gone is the perception that men would prefer a "healthier" female over the stick-thin models showing up in street signs and corners in the 90s. I've been reading and hearing men, regular men, ogling at these stick-thin figures, more frequently as time passes. Suddenly, sexual desire is sparked by showing bones and slender thighs, not by the abundance of skin or shapely hips.

No matter that she's gorgeous, she will never be considered beautiful again until she loses those extra pounds...

We've been assimilated into the society of thin. A fat girl with a beautiful face will NEVER be "a beautiful girl". She will be "a beautiful fat girl", 'cuz you have to make it clear: she's beautiful but she's fat. Hence, she's not as beautiful as she could be (don't believe me? Even gorgeous girls will be put down in public if they're not picture perfect!).

So ... a girl both beautiful AND fat? Impossible. Not true in the eyes of society.

Writer's Note: This has been a rant brought to you by Diana Campo. You are welcome to express your opinions on the comment section, but be warned: I do not intend to give off the impression that I am in possession of the absolute truth about how things work and how people feel. This is just MY take on things, and I am very aware that my take on things will differ from a lot of other people's. Variety in opinion is most welcome. I look forward to your reactions! ;-)